September 11, 2009 – A New Day for Service By Pearl Shamara, AmeriCorps member

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President Obama commemorated September 11th as a National Day of Service for Americans to make a positive difference in their communities; to remember the lives of those lost and injured; and to pay tribute to those who rose in service following the attacks. This is an opportunity to serve in honor of the heroes of that day. It is a national call to service.

  The call was answered in Spokane with over 65 AmeriCorps members joining in service. Spokane Service Team AmeriCorps members hosted projects with Washington Reading Corps, YouthBuild and Spokane Public Schools. Members set out to make a difference in our community with projects including Miriam’s House Women’s Shelter, Second Harvest Food Bank, Teen Challenge, Habitat for Humanity and SpokAnimal.

The morning started with welcome and the history of September 11th. The day concluded with a reflection and opportunities for sharing food and stories. In between, there were two hours for service projects. Two hours is a relatively small period of time, but there was nothing small about the impact members made on the community.

  Members went to Miriam’s Women’s Shelter and completed yard work, cleaned window wells, and trimmed trees. They brought a fresh new look to the home and completed projects that would have taken weeks for the maintenance staff. Ten members sorted food at the 2nd Harvest food bank. This service will help countless numbers of families as 2nd Harvest distributes food to local food banks throughout the region. Other members sorted and organized for charity thrift stores including Teen Challenge and Habitat for Humanity. It was a powerful experience to serve alongside the community volunteers who make these projects possible.

The AmeriCorps training center was transformed from a construction classroom to an active kitchen where participants baked dog biscuits from scratch to give to our fluffy friends at SpokAnimal, and a sewing center where participants made baby bibs to put in Read-to-me gift bags distributed to low-income families through local hospitals. Still other participants  signed up for Project in2books where volunteers make a year-long commitment to be a reading mentor to a child in need. Much was accomplished in this first annual day of service. We can hardly wait for next year.